Tag Archives: new MacBook

A Brave New MacBook World

After a while longer with the New MacBook, I’ve got a few more thoughts.

In my previous post The New MacBook, First Impressions I never mentioned the single USB C port. A lot of reviewers have lamented the New MacBook’s lack of ports. The lone USB C port does double duty providing both recharging power and connectivity. USB C is the future of USB, it provides power, USB connectivity and video out. The problem for “power users” is that you can only do one thing at a time. You have to choose between charging or using the port to connect to a USB hard drive.

So, is the lack of wired connectivity a deal breaker?

There are workarounds involving adapters and USB hubs and over time, there will be more cables and accessories. USB C is the new standard for all manufacturers. I have an adapter for conventional USB, but to date I’ve only connected the power cord.

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Apple designed the New MacBook to connect to the world wirelessly. This was also the reasoning behind the original MacBook Air. The first version of the Air only had a single USB port. It must have been a little ahead of it’s time, as newer versions shipped with more than one port.

So how has this brave new wireless world worked for me so far?

I set up the computer as a new Mac and wirelessly synched it up with iCloud. My Calendar, Contacts, Safari Bookmarks, Photos, and iTunes Music came over without a hitch. My apps downloaded wirelessly from the Mac App Store and the internet. All my DropBox files came over from the cloud and copied themselves to my MacBook’s drive. I was using a Thunderbolt/USB drive as a Time Machine backup for my MacBook Pro, I’ll probably hook it up when I want to turn on time Machine or need to find an old photo that isn’t in my online library. I’m not in a rush. My wireless world is looking pretty good, so far.

The New MacBook, First Impressions.

After a five week wait, my New MacBook has finally arrived!

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After seeing it at my Apple Watch try-on, I was more impressed by the New MacBook than the Apple Watch. See my post about the Apple Watch here.

Being a person who travels for a living, portability is important to me. I’ve been hauling around my 15 inch MacBook Pro for three years, and it’s getting heavier over time. In the past I’ve used the MacBook Air as my primary computer, and in many ways it’s been my all time favorite. I went with the 15 inch MacBook Pro mostly for it’s Retina Display. The MacBook Air still doesn’t have one.

Enter the New MacBook with it’s Retina Display. The New MacBook is barely larger than an iPad and weighs just 2 pounds. Could it fit my needs?

Online reviews of the New MacBook have been all over the map. Everybody loves the size, trackpad, and screen. The keyboard and single USB C port are getting more negative marks. The performance of the new Intel Core M chip is optimized for low power rather than processing speed. Performance lags when using high demand apps compared to faster more power hungry processors.

The question becomes, then, just what kind of computer user am I? Am I a true “Power User” who needs the absolute highest performance, do I really need all this performance potential? Let’s see. I don’t edit HD videos. I haven’t opened Photoshop in six months, or Light Room for that matter. These days I take most of my photos on my iPhone 6+. I use my laptop mostly for web browsing, Email, and listening to music. And I do write the occasional Blog post.

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First Impressions

Wow! This thing is small and light. With it’s case closed it could be mistaken for an iPad. It’s only 1/2 inch thick and weighs a fraction over two pounds, 2.03 lbs to be exact. Somehow, they’ve engineered it so that the bottom stays down when opening the case using the cutout below the trackpad. Yet the display stays put when adjusted. Apple must engineer the drag on the hinges  to an insane tolerance. That, and the general fit and finish give the impression of quality and attention to detail. In my opinion, this computer sets a new high mark for Apple’s industrial design and execution.

The Retina Display is gorgeous with bright saturated colors. Contrast seems better than my old Retina MacBook Pro with blacker blacks and brighter highlights. Being an Apple Retina Display, the native resolution of 2304 x 1440 is down sampled to a variety of settings. I’m using the “more space” setting which “looks like 1440 x 900.” This is the highest resolution available and text, while small, is readable. Native resolution is not available, and would probably be too small on the 12 inch screen. Regardless of choice, images open in the native resolution on a Retina Display when viewing or editing.

The keyboard has gotten a lot of attention in online reviews. Not everyone likes it. The travel of the keys is reduced by about half compared to previous Apple keyboards. It’s noticeable, but not a big deal, to me, and I can type just as fast as on my old MacBook Pro. In a day or two I can’t imagine it making any difference. Each key has it’s own separate LED backlight so there’s a lot less spill of light between the keys.

The new Haptic Trackpad feels exactly like the older Mac trackpads with a noticeable click when pressed. The trackpad doesn’t move at all, the “click” is synthetic. It’s provided by a “Haptic” transducer. A harder press gives a “Force Click” which gives additional trackpad gestures. Force Click a word in a document and the dictionary pops up defining the word. In Safari a Force Click opens a preview of a link. The Haptic Trackpad is starting to pop up on other Mac models now and will soon become the standard.

So far, the battery life seems very good. It goes down less than ten percent per hour browsing the web and writing this post. Inside the case it’s mostly battery, the circuit board is tiny. The Intel Core M processor is designed to maximize battery life.

Having had my MacBook for less than a day, these are just my initial impressions. Time will tell and I’ll update my review after a few road trips.

 

On the Apple Watch

Today Karen and I tried on the Apple Watch at the Apple store in Tampa. I made an appointment and we were called right on time. It was very crowded in the store with people lining up to try out the Apple Watch and see the new MacBooks.

Fit and finish on the Apple Watch was very good. We tried the stainless, leather, Milanese Loop, and sport bands. All fit well and were comfortable. The sport band, surprisingly, did not feel cheap. There is enough of a selection to make just about anyone happy.

The try on is very scripted and was more about choosing a watchband than an intro into the user interface.

After the try-on we were directed to another spot with working demo models to get some hands on. These demo watches were locked down in a stand and could not be worn.

I wish I could say that the user interface felt Apple like, but it didn’t. It felt like going back in time—way back to a time before the iPhone.

The main limitation to touch interaction is the small size of the display. To overcome this Apple added a scrolling “crown” and a pushbutton on the side. I’m sure that after a while their operation would become intuitive. But, to me, the button and scroll wheel seemed to get in the way of making things happen. It felt to me like one button (or scroll wheel) too many. They’re openings in the case which are hard to waterproof. And they’re potential points of mechanical failure.

I get that this as much about fashion as it is tech. I get that the scroll wheel is an homage to the crown on a conventional watch. What would Steve Jobs say about that? What would he say about the microscopic app icons vomited up on screen without any sense of order? Couldn’t you have made it cleaner?

Maybe it’s time for Apple to do a watch, everyone else is.

The Apple Watch comes with the following apps: Messages, Phone, Mail, Calendar, Activity, Workout, Maps, Passbook, Siri, Music, Camera Remote, Remote, Weather, Stocks, Photos, Alarm, Stopwatch, Timer, World Clock, and Settings. There are probably a thousand apps ready and waiting in the App Store. Oh, and it tells the time.

Apple, historically has been about what it’s products didn’t do. They purposely left out features and reduced the thing to the absolute core. They did one thing, and they did that one thing very very well. The Apple Watch doesn’t feel like that. It feels like it’s trying to do too many things at once, it feels unfocused—like it’s still looking for that “killer app.”

I won’t be buying the Apple Watch.

On the plus side, I got to get my hands on the new MacBook. The thing is thin, light, and has a gorgeous retina display. It’s the future of the laptop. I’m very impressed, and I will be buying one in Space Grey.